I am starting to do my own hobby tanning. I have done a couple hides, and I've been happy with how they have come out. For instance, I did a squirrel that turned out soft and fluffy and really nice. I use a salt and alum tanning solution, with amonium aluminum sulfate as the active ingredient.
I recently got two snowshoe hares, and I currently have the pelts tanning. They should turn out nice if I do it right, but I ripped them up a little bit while I was fleshing them out. In the instructions I used (downloaded from the good old interwebs), I understand that a thin layer of skin / flesh must be removed from the flesh side of the pelt in order for the tanning to come out right. On the squirrel pelt, for instance, I was able to scrape, scratch, and peel this layer off without damaging the outer skin or hide. I ended up ripping the rabbit hide, though, and I am curious if there is some trick that I am missing here.
For the upper portion of the back of the hide, I was able to flesh it without much problem, but getting lower on the back, I found I was basically unable to remove this thin layer of flesh without ripping right through the pelt. So now I have two rabbit skins that are more or less all shredded going into the mid portion of the lower back. I will try and stitch the holes with floss, but still, it seems like a shame to have ripped it in the first place.
I tried to be very gentle in peeling off the layer of skin, but I still ripped through. Anybody have any words of wisdom for me? Is a rabbit hide thin enough that maybe you can leave this skin layer on? Is there some treatment I can perform to the pelt, like soaking it overnight, that will allow me to remove this layer more easily without compromising the quality of the fur? I soaked it for a couple hours, but I read that soaking in water more than necessary can cause the hair to slip.
Let me know what you think. Thanks in advance. Happy New Year!
Hides? Forget it! Native peoples didn't much bother with them because they are so thin and don't retain hair. They did somehow weave them into temporary blankets however.
Now tundra hare; that's a different story. The hide is fairly durable. These "rabbits" are harder to find and it takes a .22 mag or varminting gun to take one (I've heard the old timers used a .30-.30, but a .223 or .17 would be a good bet). They are more scarce, but can be found in more open tundra and mountain sides.
Sayak is spot on, and those woven Snowshoe rabbit strip blankets were indeed known as to be very warm.
we tan Jacks, though, and the wife sews shirts from them, I hav a pict, if I can find one, they make good kids hunting parkees because they are white, but not extreamly warm.
I suggest this; Skin them as soon as you shoot them. The meat stays on the carcass and the skin peels away with "Elasticity" and dosnt rip them.
I make skinning cuts, then use my thumb and work my hands in there, seperating the skin away.
Rabbits, Caribou, Muskox, etc., skinnning them righ away is best.
Those Jacks on the mountain siides and open areas with brush for them to hide among are known around here to run in packs, so if youget one, keep your eyes open for his buddies.
All good advice. Now all we need (grandson and I) is to see a shooter.
Thanks, guys. They came out okay, just with a few tears. I'll try tanning without removing that skin layer and see what I get. Oh well. No biggie if they don't tan up well, they cook up outstandingly! It would just be nice to get the fur as well...
If you are drying the hide
gently rub the flesh side with a light sandpaper. It will scuff the flesh side enought to get the tan into the skin. I did this somewhat successfully with cottontails.
When I was a kid, I made a paste out of laundry detergent and spread it on the rabbit hide. What a few days and scrape it off. Made lots of pelts that way.
I wouldn't bother, trying, aside from doing it for the heck of it. Snowshoe hare is just too thin skinned, like the above posters said.
I just finished tanning four snowshoe hides and they turned out fine. The first two I tried skinning I ended up ripping because they are so thin but it was good practice for the last four. I salted the hides and let them sit for three days them put them in a solution that I ordered from Cabelas. I didnt bother with any fleshing and after 3 days soaking they came out nice!